Visualization Challenge


A University of Calgary (UofC) research team comprised of Allan Rocha, Usman Alim and Julio Daniel Silva has won Compute Canada’s inaugural “Visualize This!” Challenge. The national competition, organized by Compute Canada’s Visualization Team, launched in October to raise awareness of the essential role visualization can play in helping researchers explore large datasets to answer important scientific questions.

“Visualization has the potential to help researchers better understand, illustrate and glean insight from their data. Compute Canada has the resources and expertise to support all stages of visualization, from preparing data to interactive analysis. We’re working to engage more scientists, across all disciplines, to tap the power and the promise of visualization for research,” says Alex Razoumov, Compute Canada Visualization Team Lead and a Visualization Coordinator with WestGrid.

Compute Canada’s National Visualization Team has worked closely with more than 40 separate research teams. In the past 12 months alone, nearly 200 researchers attended visualization workshops and training events.

Visualize This! received 125 expressions of interest from researchers across Canada and the United States. Participants had 31 days to create a visualization solution for an oceanography model contributed by an Earth Sciences researcher.

The UofC team claimed first prize for their creative approach to using layering, animation, and elements of interactivity in their submission.

“The panel of judges felt this team’s novel technique to simultaneously display density, salinity and the velocity field on top of the temperature isosurface was worthy of the first place prize,” says Razoumov. “We especially liked the interactive elements of the visualization, such as its ability to rotate and zoom the surface in 3D, the ability to turn on/off and scale each layer’s decals, and animation of the velocity field.”

A video of the winning submission from Rocha, Alim and Silva can be viewed below:

Compute Canada – “Visualize This!” Challenge from Allan Rocha on Vimeo.

“We started this project with a dream of being able to create layered visualizations on arbitrary surfaces to visualize multiple attributes, such as we can see commonly in 2D,” said Rocha, a PhD Candidate and member of the Visualization and Graphics (research) Group (VISAGG) and the illustrares (Interactive Modeling, Visualization and Analytics) group at UofC. “These visualizations are inspired by concepts of painting and other aspects from art and information visualization. From this thinking process, the decal-maps emerged.”

In addition to being showcased on the Compute Canada website, the winning team will receive up to $1,000 towards registration and travel to HPCS 2017, Canada’s premier advanced research computing (ARC) conference, to present their work.

Rocha says his team plans to make its code open-source and available on his research group’s website so that others can access it.

The runner-up in this competition is Deepak Chandan from the University of Toronto who created a 3D animated perspective with a series of 2D skewed plots with matplotlib.

For more information on the Visualize This! Challenge, visit the competition page. To provide feedback on this year’s Challenge or ideas for how to improve the competition for next year, submit them here.